Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms and co-chair of the California Right to Know campaign, is responding to Dan Morain's Feb. 19 column "Label this one 'Do Not Touch.' " Morain wrote: "Although there's no proof that genetically modified food has caused anyone's nose to fall off, labeling is not a terribly bad idea. People like to know what they're eating. But if the big money behind this proposal is a guide, the California Right To Know Genetically Modified Food Act would be an unmodified, unmitigated and unadulterated turkey."
The right to know and the freedom to choose are at the core of our consumer rights as Californians.
Would you want to know if the food you are buying, eating and feeding to your children has been genetically engineered? If so, you are not alone.
According to a poll by Thomson Reuters, 93 percent of Americans believe genetically engineered foods should be labeled.
That's the idea behind the proposed California Right to Know ballot initiative.
The California Right To Know proposal is simple: Require labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients and prohibit genetically modified foods from being advertised as "natural."
The strong public support for such labeling is not surprising. There are still many lingering questions about whether genetically engineered foods are safe.
They may contain toxic chemicals, allergens and other potential health risks that are not present in foods that are not genetically engineered.
Fifty countries, including the European Union members, Japan and even China already require labeling for genetically engineered food. California has the opportunity be the leader in the United States on this important global food issue.
The California Right To Know campaign is a grass-roots coalition of consumers, public health associations and environmental organizations that have joined with food companies, farmers and concerned citizens to mobilize support and create this basic right to know.
This proposal will require food companies that sell their products in California to have labels with one of the following statements: "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering" or "May Be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering" if they contain ingredients that are genetically engineered.
The biotech food industry is making tremendous profits, but their business models are based on keeping Americans in the dark about what they're really eating. By requiring food to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered foods, we also give the consumer the ability to make their own decision.
According to the Grocery Manufacturing Association, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of processed food in the United States contains genetically engineered foods.
Genetically engineered salmon and many other food products will be introduced to the market shortly, without any ability to distinguish these products from their natural counterparts.
Transparency is a fundamental principle to support a democratic society.
This initiative will give us the right to know what is in the food we eat and enable California consumers to make informed choices.